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Athlete journeys to America for love of basketball

By Mike Czepil
On April 1, 2010

  • Junior guard/forward Anatoly Bose prepares to make a free throw during the Jan. 30 game against Southeastern Louisiana. The Colonels lost 84-65. Courtney Gardere

As if avoiding a landmine, Anatoly Bose tiptoes across a floor littered with textbooks, laptop computers and empty pizza boxes before finally taking a seat in his favorite navy blue vinyl lounge chair.
"I have learned a lot," he says. "I don't want to work a nine-to-five job. I want to play basketball. It's what I want to do. I can't see myself sitting in an office all day. I don't really want to do anything else."
And the Nicholls junior is making a good fist of it. He is ranked 23rd in the nation in scoring at over 20 points per game, and this week he was named to the Southland Conference First-Team.
At 21, "Toly" has had more than his share of life-changing experiences. Since childhood, he has been confronted with obstacles that he says have helped shape him into the person he is today.
"I don't remember much.but I talk to my parents about it all the time. They explain to me that at that time, it was a pretty dangerous place to live."
The time was the early 1990s, and the place was the central-Asian nation of Kazakhstan, one of 15 entities of the U.S.S.R. attempting to break from Soviet rule. Too young to understand the power the socialist regime held over the region, Toly says his fondest memories of his hometown, Almaty, were limited to the farmland he was raised on.
"I used to walk around with the animals on the farm with not a care in the world," he says with a smile. "I never went to school in Kazakhstan.I lived in a big house, and we had lots of animals around.I just loved being outside."
But for Toly's parents, Oleg and Larissa, they did not care for the idea of raising their two sons in an unstable country with limited opportunity. Spurred on by a visit to Germany, Toly's mother became fascinated by how much farther advanced the country was compared to her homeland. Upon her return to Kazakhstan, Larissa pushed for the family to relocate to a place that would give her children a better chance at life.
"It was all about opportunity," Toly says. "There were no computers where I grew up. My parents, particularly my mom, wanted the chance to live in a first-world country.
Toly's parents' desire to find a better living situation took them across the globe to Brooklyn, New York.
Toly reminisces about his initial shock in moving countries. "It was nothing like Kazakhstan," he says of Brooklyn. "I remember getting off the plane and seeing rubbish and garbage all through the streets.Kazakhstan was so clean."
Although Toly and his family now found themselves with the opportunities that come with living in the United States, Toly's challenges did not cease there.
"I could speak no English at all when I got to Brooklyn," Toly explains. "But we moved into a neighborhood full of Russian people, which helped, and I had a class with a couple of Russian students who I could talk with. I picked English up quickly though; I think it only took about six months."
In contrast, Almaty and Brooklyn could not be more different. The snow-capped ranges and lush Kazakh farmlands were now replaced by towering skyscrapers and a hectic subway. Borscht (popular central European soup) was swapped for pizza slices, and Brooklyn's feral cats took the place of Toly's pet chickens.
Toly had to look for new things to occupy his time. He began elementary school at P.S. 226 and for the first time, began making friends outside of his own neighborhood. However, it was the city's love for the game of basketball that caught Toly's attention the most.
"My dad came home from work, and he brought home a basketball game for Sega Genesis (gaming platform). I put it in, and I was addicted to it. The next day I went to a grocery store, and I bought a blow up basketball.
"I started shooting around the monkey bars.that's how the little kids played."
Toly says that his first memories of playing basketball come from times he spent with his father in Brooklyn. He says that he would wait for his father to get off work so that together they could walk to one of the local playgrounds.
"Dad got home from work at six or seven, and we would walk down to Seth Low Park or Avenue S Park. It would be packed full of people, so we would have to watch for a while. Then by about nine, it would start emptying and we would be able to shoot a bit before it went totally dark."
Toly says these moments were the ones that initially fueled his passion for basketball, and by the time he was 11 years old, Toly saw that basketball could become a part of his future.
"Going into high school.I started to see what I wanted to do with myself."
However, Toly would not be in Brooklyn long enough to begin high school there. Six years after their move to Brooklyn, Toly and his parents relocated once more, this time to Sydney, Australia.
"My parents heard something good about Bondi (outer suburb of Sydney) so we moved again. I wasn't sure about it at first because I thought Australia was all dirt and kangaroos."
Toly was challenged again with settling into a foreign land and culture. However, this time it was something Toly welcomed.
"The best year of my life was in 2000. It was like a new part of my life. We decided to move to Australia. It was like I got to start all over again. I was going into high school, and I started to see what I wanted to do with myself."
Toly was enrolled into Waverley College, an all-boys high school located in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, where he began to face the challenges and expectations of a private school education.
"At first I didn't like high school. I hated the uniforms, there were no girls and I felt like they (the teachers) made you do what they wanted you to do. It was very strict."
However, ironically, it was his new school that introduced him to a future that he had heard little about, and one that would ultimately see him return to the United States.
"In year 10 or year 11, I decided I wanted to play college basketball," Toly explains. "We got a new high school coach, and he talked to me about the possibility of playing in the I did some research about it, and I was intrigued."
Toly's investigation into the American collegiate system prompted him to seriously contemplate the possibility of attaining a basketball scholarship at a U.S. institution.
"At first I spoke to heaps of coaches back home (Australia) who said they would help. But no one really helped. If you want to do something, you better do it yourself. So I think I wrote to nearly every Division 1 and 2 coach in America. Had to have been close to 600 letters.maybe eight or 12 were interested and started to talk with me."
Nicholls was one of those schools to show interest, and in the summer of 2007, Bose signed a letter of intent to play basketball in Thibodaux.
"You know what?" he says.
"I have had some obstacles in my life, but I still think I am average. I have had a great opportunity to see and do more than most people have. But I read the papers, and you see stories about people who have had to overcome all kinds of adversity. I have never had health problems. I still have my family.I like where I am in life at the moment. I am pretty grateful that I have found myself a solid situation.

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